Brentford 1-2 Aston Villa: Thomas Frank and Unai Emery condemn ugly scenes in Premier League match

Two red cards, 10 other players booked, both managers cautioned and silly scuffles – things got out of control when Brentford faced Aston Villa.

Neither manager liked what he saw.

Villa boss Unai Emery called it “behaviour I don’t want in my team”, while Brentford’s Thomas Frank said: “That’s not how the game should be played.”

Brentford took the lead through Keane Lewis-Potter’s goal just before half-time at the end of an unspectacular opening 45 minutes.

The hosts were lucky to not have Christian Norgaard sent off soon after the restart for catching the shin of John McGinn, but a yellow card, following a video assistant referee check, was deemed suitable.

It was not long though before Ben Mee, with studs showing, went over the ball and caught Leon Bailey and this time the Bees were down to 10 men in an incident that ultimately changed the game – with Frank booked for arguing the decision.

Headers from Alex Moreno and former Brentford striker Ollie Watkins won Villa the game in dramatic fashion to leave them one point off the top of the Premier League.

‘One individual had been giving me abuse all game’

Watkins’ celebration sparked a scuffle as he stood in the goal and pointed in the direction of a supporter he accused of overstepping the mark.

“There was one individual who had been giving me abuse all game, from the first corner. He’d been on to me all game saying personal stuff,” said Watkins.

“I wasn’t racially abused, but he was saying a lot of stuff. If it happens once it’s fine, but two, three, four times, he kept going on to me, I thought ‘I’m going to get him back’.

“It was aimed at him, not anyone else at the stadium, I have a lot of respect for the club, the people here, the owner, the manager… that’s what I said to him after, when I was walking off.”

Ollie Watkins played for Brentford between 2017 and 2020 before moving to Aston Villa

A statement from Aston Villa said: “Aston Villa FC wants to express its support for Ollie Watkins and with the utmost respect for the big majority of Brentford fans and for the club, we ask the authorities to investigate this incident to find this individual. Zero tolerance to abuse in football.”

Farcical Martinez and Maupay scenes lead to chaos

There was more silliness to come, with Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Brentford forward Neal Maupay at the heart of it.

Leon Bailey nearly scored a bizarre own goal with a misjudged backpass from 50 yards, with the ball hitting the side-netting. Maupay, looking to get the ball for the corner, ran into Martinez, who made a lot of what appeared to be minimal contact.

The pair were then involved in another incident, with Maupay this time over-reacting to little contact from the goalkeeper.

Martinez tried to forcefully lift Maupay off the ground and that sparked pushing from both sides’ players, with Villa’s Boubacar Kamara shoving the face of substitute Yehor Yarmoliuk and getting a red card.

Brentford v Aston Villa
Unai Emery was booked after he stepped on to the pitch to try to separate the injury-time scuffle

“I’m not happy with our behaviour. I want to analyse with the players, because it was not normal,” said Emery.

“It’s not my spirit. We try to respect everything, but when they’re on the pitch they’re excited and some nerves were showing. Things can happen like that, but I want to work on it.

“The red card and some individual behaviour in my team, I don’t want them to do it, I don’t want these situations in my team.

“My message is: respect everything, respect the opponent, respect ourselves, respect the referee. We lost a bit of our mind in some behaviours.”

Frank was saddened that the late incidents would overshadow what he called “a very interesting match”.

“I didn’t like the incidents. That’s not how the game should be played,” said Frank.

“It’s very important to show as much class as possible, but there were too many situations where I thought ‘no, that’s not how it should be’.

“It should be the beautiful game in a physical contest between two teams and there should be a winner, but unfortunately there were situations that will take the headlines.”

‘In some ways the game is a little bit gone’

Frank was also unhappy with three decisions that went against his side: Mee’s red card, and the fact his side did not get a penalty from potential fouls against Mee and Maupay by McGinn and Ezri Konsa respectively.

“I don’t think [referee] David [Coote] got enough help from the VAR,” said Frank. “It was a clear penalty on Ben Mee from the rules we’ve been told; the red card to Ben Mee is not a red card when you look back at it.

“In some ways the game is a little bit gone. Back in the day it’s yellow, no problem. Last week we only got a yellow for Frank Onyeka and that [should have been] a red card.

“For me it [Mee’s challenge on Bailey] was a clear yellow, not a red. The biggest mistake is the penalty [not given] to Neal Maupay. That’s a massive moment in the game. On the field and VAR, how they can’t see the penalty – that makes it 2-0 and it’s game over.

“VAR is there and it will not go away, so we need to improve it and learn from the situations. Keep educating the referees is the right way to do it.”


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